Hitless early, Cubs rally again to beat Nationals
How strange a day was it at Wrigley Field Friday?
To start, Anthony Rizzo was cheered loudly for hitting foul balls.
Rizzo then drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a bases-loaded walk.
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was taken out of the game in the sixth inning with a no-hitter going.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was still steaming after the game, one the Cubs won 3-2.
Let's sort it out.
The Cubs were doing little with Hellickson while their own starting pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, gave up single runs in each of the first two innings.
Hellickson got the first two outs in the bottom of the sixth before Rizzo worked a walk on 13 pitches as he fouled off pitch after pitch.
The crowd of 41,531 ate it up.
"It's awesome," Rizzo said. "Obviously getting no-hit. Two outs. Our fans get on their feet and start cheering like that. It makes your hair stick up a little bit. They're into it, and we need that."
Walks followed to Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist, prompting Nationals manager Dave Martinez to pull Hellickson with a no-hitter in favor of lefty Sammy Solis.
Left-handed batter Jason Heyward worked the count to 2-0 before lining a sharp single to right-center to score 2 and tie the game.
The real fun started in the bottom of the seventh, when Kyle Schwarber opened with a single. Willson Contreras then laid a bunt down the third-base line. Third baseman Anthony Rendon fielded the ball and threw widely, to the outside of first base, and the ball sailed down the right field line. It looked like the Cubs would have runners on second and third with nobody out, but home-plate umpire Bill Miller ruled Contreras out for not running within the runner's lane. Schwarber was sent back to first.
Maddon came out and argued, but he wasn't tossed until he ran down toward first base and did a pantomime of Nats first baseman Ryan Zimmerman reaching toward foul territory to attempt the catch.
The umpires got the rule right, but Maddon was upset that the defense was rewarded for making a bad throw.
"I got upset, but I did respect 90," he joked, referring to his saying about baserunners respecting 90 feet between the bases by running hard. "It's been awhile. I know what the rule is, but there's got to be some interpretation where in a situation like that, the defense gets rewarded and the offense gets penalized. That's my problem with that whole thing. That could have changed the game. We fought through it.
"But for me, you make that much of an errant throw and you get rewarded for it, there's something wrong with that method. It needs to be changed. Something needs to be spoken about. I'm not the first guy that's walked down this path. I know that. But that was obviously a horrific call. I wanted (Miller) to know that at some point I think you have to exercise judgment just like umpires have to exercise judgment whether a guy's throwing at somebody intentionally or not.
"There's that part of the game that needs to be dealt with, tactfully and rightfully so. Regardless if he was inside the line or not, that throw was so far off it had nothing to do with the baserunner. If the throw was in fair territory, then go ahead and make the call. When it's egregiously a bad throw that far into foul territory, play the game."
Miller told a pool reporter: "In this situation, he interfered with the first baseman's ability to catch the ball. Because he was running inside fair territory -- he was not running in the lane. Just because he's out of the lane does not mean he's out. It does not mean it's automatic interference. If he's running outside (the lane), he has to interfere with the first baseman's ability to catch the ball. It doesn't have anything to do with the throw. It has to be a decent throw. That throw was borderline."
It all ended well for the Cubs (67-48) who got singles from pinch hitter Ian Happ and Addison Russell to load the bases before Rizzo's third walk of the game scored Schwarber.
"Just go up there trying to hit," Rizzo said. "I'm not trying to walk. Walking is a byproduct of having good at-bats and not chasing things out of the zone. I did a good job of that today."
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